Today’s Hint: Watch Serving Sizes (for Your Child, That is)

I felt a bit of mom guilt recently when reading my What to Expect the Second Year book. In the section on feeding, the book asked: “Does your toddler barely make a dent in the piles of food you offer up each day?” “Yes, definitely,” I mentally answered. Well, “perhaps it’s because you’re offering far too much,” the book responded.

I admit it – I’m a food pusher. I have a tendency to serve my baby a lot of food. For instance, I’ll give her a bowl full of pasta and meat sauce, or a couple cups of yogurt, at once. Then, I’ll try to get as much of the food in her as I can, worrying that she’s not getting enough food and that I’m wasting food if she doesn’t eat it all. Maybe I have this habit because I come from a family of six where you had to be quick to make sure you got enough to eat (especially when the menu was Chinese food or pizza).

Or maybe there’s some cultural reason to blame. Or more likely, I just have no perspective on how much food a toddler should eat and I think my daughter needs a lot more food than she really does, a common misconception among parents, according to my What to Expect book.

This is why today’s hint is to save on food costs by minding your child’s servings. Cut down on food waste, and make the groceries you buy last a little longer, by following this What to Expect advice: Serve the recommended serving sizes for tots, which are “about one-quarter the size of a recommended adult serving size.”

For instance, the book says a tot serving of pasta is two tablespoons, a yogurt serving is 1/4 cup and a hot cereal serving is 2 tablespoons. In other words, boy, are my servings off, and so are those recommended on some baby and toddler food boxes.

A simple rule of thumb, according to the Kids Eat Right initiative, is that a tot’s serving size is about one-fourth to one-half an adult serving size. You can find more detailed lists of toddler serving sizes here and here. And if your kids are older, you can find serving sizes for preschoolers here and for even older kids here, and you can read more about understanding portion sizes here.

What are your hints for managing your child’s serving sizes and cutting food costs?

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  1. says

    Very interesting I use to feed my babies until they just didn’t want anymore they would either hit the spoon or not open their mouth I figured they were full. I started table food earlier too so that was my fault I think that filled them up quicker than the baby food.


  1. […] To be sure, the break-it-up approach doesn’t work with all snacks. It’s hard, for instance, to rip up a popsicle or a piece of Pirate’s Booty. For such snacks, we’ve developed other related tricks. In regards to popsicles, we give our daughter tiny popsicles called Mighty Minis, so we don’t feel so bad if she eats two, three or even four. Meanwhile, for snacks like Pirate’s Booty or Cheerios, we give our little one just a tiny bit in bowls (toddlers only need small servings anyway). […]

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